Monday, June 24, 2013

First Week in the Field

Hola Everyone!!

This past week has been crazy, but absolutely amazing!!  Leaving the MTC was bitter sweet.  I'm definitely going to miss my district and teachers and such, but it's good to know that they're all going out to preach the word too!!

Two Friday's ago, we had In-Field Orientation.  At first I thought it was going to be kind of boring and not worth my time, but it was actually quite enjoyable.  The instructors had a lot of good insight on how we should always have a vision of what we want in the future and how to work well with members.  The whole day was pretty spiritually uplifting.  That night, my district had a little fiesta with a pinata that Hermana Higgs' mom sent.  It was a blast until a security guard came by and told us that we couldn't use the bat anymore. Oh well, we didn't know!  

Last Sunday was really sweet!  We were able to sing our song in Sacrament Meeting.  It went really well and I was so proud of our elders.  Especially Elder Tanner because he was having issues singing his part, but he nailed it on Sunday.  After Sacrament Meeting we went on our last Temple walk as a district.  It was really peaceful because we got to go when hardly anyone was there.  That night, I asked our elders for a blessing because I was stressing a lot about going to California the next day.  It was really neat to have all four elders around me using the priesthood.  The blessing helped a lot and I didn't feel as nervous or inadequate.  

Monday, HERMANA HIGGS AND I FLEW TO CALIFORNIA!!  On the way to Denver (our layover) I sat next to a Bishop from Salt Lake and on the way to Santa Barbara I sat next to this cute little old man on his way to see his grandkids.  I got to share a little bit about the church with him!  It was a little nerve wracking, but I did it!!  Once we got to Cali, we met President Castro, his wife, and his kids, all of whom are wonderful and sweet people.  We did some orientation at the Ventura Stake Center, had an interview with President Castro, and then stayed at members homes that night.  In my interview with Pres. Castro, he told me that when he was a bishop in New York, one of his counselors was Bro. Houghton from 4th ward!  Crazy, right?  It's such a small world in the church.  In the interview, he told me that when I walked in, he could tell that I was going to be a very successful missionary and bring many souls unto Christ.  I was really touched by this.  He also told me, after I said the closing prayer in Spanish, that I speak Spanish wonderfully and asked me if I spoke Spanish before the mission! Ha to all of you that thought I sounded white!  He said I pronounced things perfectly and had excellent grammar.  

The next morning, I met my new companion!! Her name is Hermana Romero and I absolutely love her!!  I got really lucky because she's a native speaker!  Hopefully she'll help me speak spanish a lot better.  We're assigned to the Paso Robles 1st Ward and the Paso Robles Spanish 3rd Branch (NOT BAKERSFIELD!!).  I get to work in English AND Spanish AND we're white washing (taking the place of the elders that used to be in the area...we're the first sister missionaries in the ward for 20 years!)!  It's get even better though.  Hermana Higgs and her companion are also assigned to the 3rd Branch!!  What are the chances?!  I get to see her almost everyday still!!  After the transfer meeting, I found out that I get to be the designated driver for our car! Hopefully I don't crash it!! ;)  One more crazy thing from that day...Nathaniel James (one of my FHE brothers from first semester) is serving in Ventura right now while he's waiting for his visa to Mexico!! Weird!!  I got to talk to him a little bit before we had to head to Paso.  When we got to Paso, we went straight to a dinner appointment with a recent convert Noel Foltz and her non-member family.  They're so sweet!  We then went to the Laughmiller's (a member family) ...we're living in their basement and their awesome.  

On Thursday, we taught a few people, but one of the highlights was teaching a homeless progressing investigator in Spanish.  At the end of the lesson, I got to invite him to be baptized and he said yes!!  We had dinner with a family from 1st ward and found out that Sister Adams is the writer of this really popular food blog called Artsy McGoo (sp?).  The food that she fed us was amazing!!

On Friday, we also taught a few people, but the highlight was going to see another progressing investigator, Edgar, but instead teaching his daughter, Ruth.  I got to recite the first vision in Spanish and testify.  It wasn't perfect, but the spirit was really strong.  We surprised Noel with another visit and she was really happy to see us.  Every time we visit Noel and her family, we have to drive on dirt roads to go to the middle of no where.  Almost all of our investigators live in the hills and it's gorgeous.  The roads are so bad that we're trying to get the truck back that the elders before us had.  My dream!!  The area here is SO beautiful too!  Noel's daughter, Jane, is 8 years old and wants to be baptized, but she can't because her dad won't let her.  We're praying for her everyday and hopefully her dad's heart will be soften so that she can soon!

On Saturday, we taught a lot more people.  One of the recent converts that we visited, Denise, is super sweet and her grandson, Elijah, is too.  Before we left, we gave Hermana Romero and I little notes and pictures and wanted to take a picture with us before we left.  When we took a dinner break at Subway, we passed the Mid-State Fair Grounds.  We found out that Tim McGraw, Kip Moore, Rascal Flatts, and The Band Perry are coming next month, but we can't go!!  Some of my favorite groups/people are coming!! Oh well!! I'm doing something a lot more important.  

Church yesterday was awesome!  We had to keep going back and forth between the wards so it was kind of hectic, but we met all sorts of wonderful people.  There's only like three or four families that attend the Spanish Branch, so numbers are kind of scarce.  I had to play the piano in Relief Society, conduct the music in Sacrament Meeting and say the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting.  I was grateful that my musical abilities were able to come in handy!  We were able to watch the Training Broadcast yesterday and found out that we're going to be able to use Facebook to do missionary work as well as all sorts of other websites and technology.  I loved how they mentioned a lot about member missionary work and how members need to do more searching so the missionaries don't have to.  The members here seemed really excited to get to work and hope back home people feel the same way.  I also got to see Natalie and a bunch of the Hermanas and Elders from the MTC that were in my zone!

Here in the mission, we're able to go to the temple during the month of our birthday.  Although my birthday isn't until October, Hermana Romero's is actually tomorrow, so we get to got to LA tomorrow!! YAY!!  I didn't think I'd be able to go this soon, but I'm so grateful I get the opportunity to!

I know that there's not too much detail in this email, but there was just so much to fit in! Hopefully next week I'll be able to give more info about more of our investigators.  

Love you all and wish you all the best!!  You're all in my prayers and I hope you're all touched by what I've had to say.  

Con amor,

Hermana Halliday

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fifth (and Last) Week at the MTC

Hola Everyone!!!

This week has been great, but stressful at the same time!  Hermana Higgs and I got our travel plans for California on Friday!  I can't believe it's actually happening.  The time goes by so fast here!  We leave on Monday morning, so this is my last email that I'll send from the MTC, but I'll still email out in the field.  Just a reminder that my address will change on Monday to the Ventura Mission Home address.  It should be posted on Facebook, but if not, it will be soon.  I still hope that everyone keeps in touch!

On Sunday after devotional, we had the opportunity to watch Elder Bednar's talk from Christmas 2011 in the MTC called "Character of Christ."  It was phenomenal.  He talked about how we need to become more like the character of Christ.  We need to turn outward to others during hard times in our lives even if the natural man tendency is to turn inward.  It made me think about all the times I've felt sorry for myself when I've been down.  One example that he gave was when Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Even though His disciples fell asleep, Judas betrayed Him, and the gaurds took Him prisoner, he still turned outward and healed the gaurds ear that Peter cut off.  Another was when Satan was tempting Him and instead of having angels help Him, he sent them to John who was in prison.  The talk was absolutely one of my favorites and I wish the rest of you could hear it.

Also, on Sunday, our whole zone wore purple in honor of the district that just left on Monday.  Everywhere we walked, people kept commenting on how we were so cute, so creative, etc.  We forgot how much attention it drew! :P  This Sunday, since my district is leaving, we chose to wear pink!  It'll be interesting to see how it turns out!

This Sunday my district gets to sing our farewell song too.  I already said that we're going to sing "I Stand All Amazed," but I still can't believe how much we've been practicing and how good we sound.  I'm so excited to blow the minds of the rest of our zone.  They have no idea what's coming!  Although this Sunday will be fun, it'll be sad at the same time because Hermana Higgs and I are going to be released from our assignment of being Sister Training Leaders.  It's been such a blessing to serve the new missionaries and help them feel welcome.  This week we just got 10 new elders, but no hermanas. :( I was kind of surprised!

During church last Sunday, one of the elders in my district, Elder Palmer, had the guts to "dead fish" (go in for a hand shake then turn his hand sideways to make it awkward) President Johnson.  He was so proud of himself and we thought that Pres. J would be disappointed.  Instead, he decided to "dead fish" Elder Cunningham right after Elder Palmer did it to him!  We were pretty surprised and it was hilarious!

On Tuesday, we had a once in a lifetime opportunity!  We got to go to the Marriott Center for Devotional!! We got to leave the MTC!! Not only that, but after my district was settled in their seats in the bleachers, one of the ushers motioned for us to follow him.  We did, but were really confused.  We followed him up to the front row where there were exactly 8 seats left!! We got to sit on the front row for devotional!!  I still can't believe it.  Nothing like this ever happens to me.  The devotional was really good and afterwards we got to shake Elder Arnold's (the member of the seventy that spoke) hand.  Our elders decided that they wanted to shake his hand last so Elder Palmer could "dead fish" a General Authority.  He actually did it, but Elder Arnold took it well and thought it was pretty funny.

As we were walking back to the MTC from devotional, we ran into a bunch of kids that were in a soccer camp.  Because we were the last missionaries out of the Marriott, we were the only missionaries around.  As soon as these adorable kids saw us, they pointed and got so excited saying, "Look! It's the missionaries!"  They all ran up to us and gave us all high fives.  It was weird to think that I used to be that kid that thought the missionaries were the coolest people on earth, but now I am one!  It was the first time that I really felt appreciated as a missionary because we've never left the MTC except to go the temple.

On Wednesday, my district got to host new missionaries.  We got to pick them up at the curb and take them to their residence halls with their luggage, then to get their books, and then to their classrooms.  At first, it was hard because a lot of them would being crying with their families and they wanted to stall leaving.  I almost started crying myself, but luckily I didn't cause it wouldn't have helped anything.  I got to host 3 sister missionaries.  One of the girls that I had was going to the Chicago Mission and was from California!! It was really neat because I got to relate to her and ease her parents concerns.  I can definitely tell that sometimes the Lord does things in our lives that allows us to help!  I also saw one of the VanKammen triplets (not sure if it was Christopher or Cameron...I can never remember who's who).  I waved and asked him how he was doing, but I don't think he recognized me!  He was probably too overwhelmed so I don't blame him.  While we were hosting, there was another sister who was hosting whose younger brother came in yesterday.  Her parents were dropping them off and she got to see them!! It was really precious!!

I've seen so many people that I know here that I've lost track of who I've seen!  I did see Sarah Cunningham (my old EFY roommate) and Stephen Brown yesterday though.  It was crazy because I haven't seen either of them in a while.  I see Natalie everywhere and I absolutely love it!!  It's crazy to think though that I'm leaving and I won't see anyone I know for another 17 months. 

This week, Hermana Heinzen, one of my teachers, found out that she's having a boy!! I don't remember if I ever told you guys that she was pregnant, but she is and she's having a baby boy.  Her and her husband are going to name him Ezra. 

Also, this morning after we did laundry, but before we went to the temple, I GOT MY HAIR CHOPPED!! I can't believe I actually did it, but now I don't have to move my hair out of the way to see my name tag.  It's sits right above it!  I love it and think it's adorable!

One really inspirational thing that one of our teachers told us this week was that "God can't mold a perfectionist."  This made me reflect on how I've treated my mission.  Sometimes I think it's hard to want to change whether it's for the better or for the worse, but God wants to help us become better so we need to give up our whole life to him.  My teacher was also saying how when we came to earth, we fell from our perfect state.  God wants to help us become our better selves, not just another person.  I loved that!

I pray for all of you everyday and want you to know that this church is true! I know it and love it with all of my heart!

Con amor,

Hermana Halliday

PS: Shout out to Hannah Holmes who got her mission call to Korea Seoul leaving on October 23!!!  She's gonna rock it!!

PSS: Happy Father's Day to all those dad's and future dad's out there!! You're all great!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Incredible Devotional!

I wanted to share my notes from the Tuesday (6/4) devotional from Elder Tad R. Callister.  It's all about the church and how it's the only church on earth that's exactly like the one Christ established during New Testament times

Tad R. Callister
(Found Completely in the New Testament)

  1. Organization
    • Apostles and prophets - Ephesians 2:19-20, Acts 1:22 &25
    • Seventies - Luke 10:1, Article of Faith 6 (from modern revelation)
    • Lay ministry - John 15:16
    • Named after Christ - Various scriptures referring to the "Church of Christ"
  2. Teachings
    • Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone - Luke 24:39, Romans 6:9
    • They are 2 separate beings - Matthew 26:39 (Christ prayed to his father)
    • Gospel is preached to the dead - 1 Peter 4:6
    • Multiple heavens - 2 Corinthians 12:2
    • Eternal marriage - 1 Corinthians 11:11, 1 Peter 3:7
  3. Ordinances
    • Bless, not baptize infants - Mark 10:16
    • Baptism is essential for salvation - John 3:5, Acts 2:38
    • Baptism by immersion - Matthew 3:16
    • Baptism for the dead - 1 Corintians 15:29
    • Gift of the Holy Ghost (laying on of hands) - Acts 8:17, Acts 19:6
  4. Fruits of the Church
    • Healthy lifestyle - 1 Corinthians 3:16
    • High moral standards - 1 Timothy 2:9, Matthew 5:8, 1 Corinthians 6:19
    • Happy families - Ephesians (admonition of Paul)
    • Miracles/gifts of the Spirit - Gift of tongues, faith, knowledge, revelation, visions, healings
    • Angels and visions - Mary, Joseph, Peter, James, John, Paul, Christ (Joseph Smith in modern day)
  5. Link to Heaven
    • Revelation - Acts 1:2, Mormon 9:7-9 (in the Book of Mormon)

I felt like this talk was really interesting and made me think even more about how true the church is.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fourth Week at the MTC!

Hola Everyone!

This week has been a great week!! I've learned so much and hope that I keep learning this much!  There's been so many things that have been spiritual, but also a lot that have just made my week socially. 

On Sunday, we had our mission conference (whole MTC) because it was Fast Sunday.  There were so many great talks that were given, but my favorite was probably Sister Roach's.  She talked about the importance of taking care and showing respect for the Book of Mormon.  She even had a shout out to President Clark!  She was saying how her dear friend Scott Clark, President of the Joliet Illinois Stake, went on his mission to Japan where his mission president had all of the missionaries wrap their scriptures in cloths that protected them from whatever harm could come.  I loved the idea and I loved that President Clark got a shout out! It made me feel really cool that I knew personally who she was talking about. 

For our devotional on Sunday, Ted Gibbons came.  Instead of giving a talk or lecturing us, he acted out the life of Willard Richards all the way up to the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum.  It was probably one of the most amazing performances I've seen.  It got me all hyped up to learn more about the restorationa and about church history.  Right after his performance, we had the opportunity to watch Legacy for our movie that night!! I absolutely love that movie and was pretty much quoting along with it.  I forgot how cheesy it was, but I still love it and had the main song stuck in my head the rest of the night.  When they showed the Nauvoo temple being built, it made me miss home, but it got me that much more excited to go back and visit it after I get home in 17 months.  I just love church history so much!!

On Sunday morning, I had an interview with Brother Dowdle, the second counselor in our branch presidency and, by the way, famous guitar player.  He was telling me that the Book of Mormon isn't just Another Testament of Jesus Christ, but is a physical manifestation that God is real.  If you think about how the Book of Mormon got here on earth, there's no way that you can deny the reality of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  Joseph Smith was an uneducated farmboy who translated the gold plates in about a month.  There is no way he could have done that without the help of God. 

On Monday, we had a really spiritual lesson with Miguel, one of our investigators.  We talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power that it can have in our lives.  Lately, Hermana Higgs and I have been struggling a little with trying to bring the spirit into lessons while using spanish.  Towards the end of the lesson, Hermana Higgs and I both testified of the importance of the Atonement and had Miguel read an excerpt from a General Conference talk.  The spirit was so strong that we almost started crying during the lesson.  It was the first time that I truly felt that we could do this and that I didn't need to worry about receiving the Lord's help. 

On Tuesday, we received two new investigators.  This time, instead of being our teachers, the investigators are two of the elders in my district, Elder Ainge and Elder Tanner.  They're impersonating two of their friends from back home who aren't members.  It's really neat to teach them because we get to pretend to be investigators for them as well.  It's interesting to be on the side of the investigator because it helps us realize what the investigators are feeling more. 

Tuesday night, for devotional, Elder Tad R. Callister, from the seventy talked to us.  At first, his talk seemed like it was going to be pretty factual and boring, but as it went on, it got more interesting.  He talked about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the only church on earth that is exactly like the one in the New Testament during Christ's ministry on earth.  I'll send my notes later, but it's amazing because all of the scripture references come from the New Testament. 

It's crazy how fast time flies.  I only have a week and a half left in the MTC before I finally head out to California.  Whenever a district leaves in our zone, they have to perform a farewell song in Sacrament Meeting.  My district has already decided that we're going to sing "I Stand All Amazed" in Spanish for our song.  We've practiced a few times this week, but still have a lot of practice left to do.  I'm really glad that the elders in my district are willing and enthusiastic to do this because most guys my age wouldn't be.  That's one this that I really like about them.  I'm surprised they still like talking to us even though we shed our hair all over the classroom floor and they find it in hairballs and have to throw it away!  Everyday, though, the elders find something hilarious to add to the collection they started when we got here.  This week, they started saying, "Le gusta Satanas?"  which means do you like Satan.  This may not sound that funny, but the way they say it is hilarious. 

Last week, the older district in my zone created a zone handshake that we've all learned.  I feel like our zone has bonded a lot this past week and it'll be sad to see the district leave this week.  We all joke about how in 2 years when we're all back from our missions, we're going to see each other and first thing we'll do is do the handshake.  It's pretty complicated and took a while to learn, but I think I got it now! :)

Yesterday, I started reading Jesus the Christ.  I'm not that far into it yet, but I really enjoy it so far and encourage those of you who haven't read it yet to read it.  It's all about Christ and his purpose and life and why He's important in our lives.  Last week, Hermana Higgs and I started memorizing the Articles of Faith in Spanish!  I've got 1-8 and 13 down!  Once I've finished with those, I'm going to start memorizing the Family Proclamation in Spanish, which will be more of a challenge, but totally worth it!

So the Hermanas that trained us, Hermana Boyd and Hermana Lyons, were like the greatest people on earth and we used to call them "THE Hermanas."  When they left we were bummed, but we tried to be the same way for the Hermanas that came in after us.  Yesterday, they referred to us as "THE Hermanas!"  It made me feel like I had been fulfilling my assignment as Sister Training Leader and becoming as great as the other Hermanas that trained us. 

This morning, we were able to go to the temple again!  Instead of actually doing an endowment session, we decided to do initiatories.  It was really neat because I haven't done them since I first went through.  As I was looking at the names that I was given, I realized that all of the women were from St. Clair, Illinois! It was really neat to be able to connect with these deceased women and make it more personal.  I mean, there aren't that many people from Illinois that I meet.  Which reminds me!  The Busticker (sp?) girl is in my gym time!  I didn't realize who she was until I asked what her last name was because she looked familiar. 

I've ran into so many more people that I know this past week!!  I ran into Brother  Dowd's daughter at the bookstore this morning and saw Carmichael (Jacob Macmichael, the other temple coordinator in my ward) a few times this past week. Best of all, I SAW NATALIE DURING LUNCH!!! I was so excited to see her after a month!!  It pretty much made my day!!  Also, Michael Murdock is in my zone! Crazy! For those of you who don't know who that is, I met him first semester of college.   My friends and I were fake campaigning for Obama and ran into him and his roommates in Wyview.  Later, I realized that he was on drumline in marching band.  I never thought I'd know someone in one of the incoming districts!

I'm absolutely loving it here at the MTC and it'll be hard to leave, but that doesn't mean that I'm not excited for California!  I love and miss everyone and you're all in my prayers!

Con Amor,

Hermana Halliday